Consultant helps game developers not do stupid things such as decorate lava levels with Stars of David

Change is happening!

Engineers. :roll_eyes: amiright?

Seriously tho, this is why I think a liberal arts education is so important.


I thought it was interesting the outrage over a billboard inside this game was being criticised for using an apparently transgender character as a sexy model for advertising a fictional product in a fictional dystopian future.
After the forever of demanding to be treated equally and then getting it (where every gender and ethnicity is treated like meat for marketing) in a video game, it turns out that their general responses could be summed up as “No, not like that.”.

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Makes sense. As in, “it’s us XOR them”. That’s pretty much their mindset.

Much like the coda symbol in music, but more menacing somehow.

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Also: game animators, technical artists and illustrators, game designers, game sound FX artists… (Ok, some of them perhaps slightly less so than the programmers, but…)


And, as enemies dwindle, you end up applying that XOR-ism to yourself, and you end up nullified[1]. As tortured extended metaphors go it’s a good one.

[1] A A = 0 for any A. It’s even used (applied bitwise) as a hacky quicker way to set a register to zero if you are doing bit-crunch-y assembly coding on certain architectures.


the onion bit is funny - “you can truly pick your gender, but everyone is forced to be christian” - because it doesn’t exist and because it’s a play on the developer’s lack of a clue.


you can’t imagine how it would be to lack representation in video games, and then - still without positive representation - be exploited solely to make a game seem edgy?

it’s tokenism at its very worst.

if the game and its marketing wasn’t being exploitative and the system that the onion piece described existed ( being able to actually play as a non-binary person, not the christian holy war part. lol. ) that would be progress. but i guess that’s the onion’s point.

cd projekt red ( and nvidia ) could use this op’s consultant and then some. ugh.


I’d warn you about willing that sort of thing into existence, but it already happened at E3 this year…

I’d agree that the error could have been avoided if someone had included ‘religion’ in the ontology of the game, so that characters, animations; and art assets could be tagged accordingly and that incorporated into the selection heuristics; and not thinking of that or thinking that’s worth the trouble is a cultural awareness error.

That said, the ‘automated asset reuse produced weird outcome’ case seems like a distinct flavor of error just because of how widely one sees that flavor of error in places where it either requires zero cultural awareness/sensitivity to detect or cuts against some fairly core concept of the game; presumably because building a fully adequate ontology and classifying all the things accordingly isn’t necessarily compatible with budgets and ship dates.

In the case of animation reuse; it’s probably more the rule than the exception(in genres like RPGs where you have a lot of choice over these) for at least some combinations of character, equipment; and animation to cause the character to clip through themselves all over the place. And that’s something that is both immediately visible to the least context-aware playtester and potentially amenable to algorithmic checking(might not be computationally cheap; but if you are running it to sanity check assets rather than in real time on the player’s system that’s something you can cope with).

In terms of problems that are ontology related; but which are so closely related to core game concepts I’m reminded of the case of (I believe all) the Bethesda Fallout games: they don’t actually have a ‘prewar’/‘postwar’ distinction. Obviously the actual people doing the environment design have these ideas in mind, so you normally don’t see ‘raider’ or ‘super mutant’ items in a pristine prewar military base(if you had to crack it open and kill all the death robots it probably hasn’t been tampered with); but as soon as you open a container that draws from a leveled list that includes chems: boom, odds of finding jet(canonically postwar only) are the same as a similar container in a raider base somewhere. There’s similarly no built-in mechanic for ‘wealth’ or ‘tech level’ or ‘civilian’ vs. ‘law enforcement’ vs. ‘military’; so your odds of finding a crudely modified tire iron vs. a suppressed automatic rifle have more to do with your level than with where you look.

Those errors aren’t culturally salient, so insensitivity isn’t an issue; but in those cases ontology baked fairly deeply into the gameworld wasn’t included in the automated reuse mechanisms(though it was largely respected by in the manual designs, which suggests ignorance wasn’t at play); presumably because it would have added greatly to the effort and only stomped a modest number of edge cases that simply weren’t major priorities.

Skyrim and Morrowind had a similar issue with age/chronology: lots of items (especially books) have an identifiable age, or at least a “written about events of the early 4th era, can’t be earlier than that”; but there’s no actual ‘age’/‘year of first production’/‘year secret of production was lost’; and locations and containers don’t have ‘contents last modified’ or the like; so (again), while manual environment building mostly tries to avoid anachronism; there’s nothing preventing weird draws from leveled lists(in some cases they try to do ad-hoc fixes by specifying different leveled lists for certain locations and container types to avoid anachronistic or simply bland draws; but the ontology of the world doesn’t offer any assistance).

I don’t mean to suggest that these mild incongruities are as important as cultural flubs; just that ontological omissions vastly more visible to even the most myopic members of the dev team(possibly most visible to them, when it comes to series nerd arcana) get made routinely, even in big budget games, presumably because chasing diminishing returns at nontrivial cost isn’t attractive(or the process is rushed/fragmented enough that the timeframe doesn’t allow a comprehensive fix by the time the problem is identified); so I’d expect to see culturally sensitive errors caused by the same mechanisms crop up without atypical apathy or malice(though be much more likely to get at least an ad-hoc fix once called out; adding an ontology of cultural significance to UFC idle animations is likely a hassle; just blacklisting a few for a specific character shouldn’t be terribly difficult).

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I take your point, but I’d tend to put loot tables in a different category. There are a couple reasons why you wouldn’t want to set up item drops to be that context-appropriate. First, is, as you say, diminishing returns - setting up the loot table is trivial, but there are hundreds/thousands of items that all need to be tagged (far, far more than character idle animations). All for a result that most people won’t notice/care about. But in addition, there’s a gameplay element - the new loot tables aren’t going to be properly balanced, as the game relies on a mixture of old-world and new-world items. So, speaking as someone who has put together loot tables for video games, designers do think about it, but the tendency is towards (deliberately) choosing simplification over appropriateness, as it tends to work better (and is easier to do QA for).

Whereas with the idle animations, the least damning explanation involves someone being a bit incompetent and not knowing what was in the animation set (which, if we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt, was made for a specific character) when making a decision about their broader use.

It worked for selling copies of “Custer’s Revenge” but thankfully the industry and the public have matured at least a little bit since then.

Custer’s revenge sold 80,000 copies, which is… not inconsiderable. I really hope the industry has matured since then but every now and then I hear about Steam having to remove a rape simulator game from their platform.

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